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Saturday 12 October 2013, by admin

Algorithmic and architectural studies

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Design flow
Design flow

At an early stage of the design flow ACEN studies and defines the algorithms that best respond to the standard, the requirements, and the constraints of the system. This activity is done in close collaboration with the project manager and the team in charge of the hardware and software developments. The architectural exploration enables to identify the processors (HW, SW) implemented on the platform. The algorithms are refined to match their target processor. At the end of this phase:

  • the processors (FPGA, DSP, CPU) are chosen,
  • the mapping algorithm/processor is done,
  • the general specifications are released.

Gateware development

On the basis of the general specification ACEN carries out the development of the gateware. This activity is done in ACEN premises. Although sub-contratcted this activity remains under the control of the project leader through:

review of the detailled specification,
periodic design reports and progress meetings.

A great importance is given to testing that runs concurrently with the gateware design. An incremental testing methodology is used based on:

  • the development of test benches for VHDL modules,
  • the individual testing of modules with a simulator,
  • the development of testbenches for sub-systems (set of VHDL module for an identified part of the algorithm),
  • test of the sub-systems on an evaluation board with the target FPGA.

At the end of the design phase the gateware is entirely tested in the FPGA with testbenches that simulate as far as possible the final environment in which the FPGA runs. This approach enables to start the integration phase with the minimum amount of bugs in the FPGA and to reduce the duration of the next phases.

Integration and verification

The integration of the FPGA with the rest of the platform is usually done under the responsability of the project leader. ACEN contributes to this integration to ensure that the FPGA conforms with the specification. The verification process makes sure that the implementation is correct and conforms to the requirements listed in the specification.


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Design flow EDA
Design flow EDA

The parts of the design flow that are not covered by ACEN can be developped by the partners of the Electronic Design Alliance:

  • components (other than FPGA) selection,
  • hardware (board) design,
  • software development,
  • complete integration and verification.

As a result of this partnership ACEN can take in charge the end-to-end development of a turn-key prototype compliant with the customer’s specification.

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